Ruggiero assures Pakistan of US’ commitment to strategic ties

Friday, January 7, 2011

ISLAMABAD - Acting US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Frank Ruggiero has assured Pakistan leaders that Washington remains fully committed to its strategic relationship with Islamabad.

“One of the objectives of my visit is to express continuity in America’s policy towards this region,” the Dawn quoted Ruggiero, as saying.

Ruggiero was appointed acting special representative to the region after Ambassador Holbrooke’s demise last month.

On the first day of his two-day visit, Ruggiero met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, and also announced a 190-million-dollar aid for victims of last year’s unprecedented floods that devastated the country.

A statement issued after a meeting between Prime Minister Gilani and Ambassador Ruggiero said: “Mr Ruggiero informed the prime minister that he had been sent to Pakistan by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to convey US government’s firm commitment to continue with its strategic partnership with Pakistan.”

Ruggiero’s visit came at a time when Pakistani leaders were worried about a possible shift in US policy towards the country and the region as a whole.

These fears were particularly reinforced by the Afghanistan-Pakistan annual review released last month, which specifically mentioned Pakistan’s reluctance to go after Taliban sanctuaries in its tribal areas as a major obstacle to success in Afghanistan.

The US pressure being exerted on Pakistan to go after the sanctuaries has brought fresh strains in relations, and Gilani expressed some of those concerns in his meeting with Ruggiero.

“The prime minister underlined that the assistance being offered by Pakistan friends and allies as well as by international financial institutions should have taken into account the objective conditions and Pakistan’s sacrifices to ensure that ordinary people of Pakistan do not face further hardships,” the statement said, adding that Gilani reiterated his government’s commitment to the war on terror.

On Gilani’s complaints, Ruggiero was quoted as saying: “President Obama fully recognises sacrifices of the Pakistan armed forces and civilian population in the war against terror.” (ANI)

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